Sunday, March 31, 2019

Don't Be Stressed by Your Stress!

Do you ever become depressed by those lists of risk factors for various diseases, inevitably accompanied by ways to beat the odds?  I have reached a place in life wherein my multiple health challenges preclude most of the proposed ways to beat Alzheimer's and heart disease.

Get plenty of sleep (I try, believe me I try), eat fiber (not a good idea for someone with my digestive system), exercise (on three separate occasions I've ended up on crutches and once in a wheelchair when I was overzealous with exercise: stress fractures, bursitis, fibromyalgia), get plenty of sunshine (I have ocular rosacea and light-induced migraine).  And my favorite: avoid stress.  Trust me, I do not look for stress.  It finds me.  I'd like to know how a farmer's wife with two adult kids (four if you count my daughter and son-in-law, and I do), four grandchildren,  and an Alzheimer's mom is supposed to avoid stress.

Stress is a fact of my life, as is my daily pouring out of my stresses to the Lord.  By the end of most days, stress is back, and I must conduct the exercise of casting my cares all over again.

This is why I'm so comforted by the Scripture-based promises in the fifth stanza of the classic hymn How Firm a Foundation (see the meme at the opening of this post).  "The flame shall not hurt thee..."  What a lovely promise!  I don't have to fear the flames of the stresses of my life because the Lord has promised that although the burning away of dross may be painful, that His refining fire will test me and bring me forth as gold (see Job 23:10 below).  He has my good in mind.  And He is the one who is wielding the flame that causes me so many episodes of the sensation we humans call stress.

His grace is constantly present with us, and covers us.  The difficulties along our paths are known and ordained by the Lord who intends us good and not harm.  I don't have to be stressed by my stress, because it isn't mine at all, it belongs to God, who has allowed the circumstances I face and has made me a way through.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:7

This third I will put into the fire;
    I will refine them like silver
    and test them like gold.
They will call on my name
    and I will answer them;
I will say, ‘They are my people,’
    and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.
Zechariah 13:9

But he knows the way I take; and when I am tested I will come forth as gold.
Job 23:10

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Lord is With Us in Our Sorrows

The background of this meme is from a painting by my mom, completed just a few years before her Alzheimer's diagnosis.  

This fourth stanza form the classic hymn, How Firm a Foundation, is based on Isaiah 43:2: 

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze. 
--Isaiah 43:2--

So many people across our nation and throughout the world are suffering loss of homes and livelihood because of flooding.  Let's pray for them:  Lord, keep them from despair, provide for their needs, and show them the next step to take to follow Your path out of the disasters they have suffered, in Jesus' Name we pray. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Stanza 3 of How Firm a Foundation: Fear Not!

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  
Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

May Our Strength Equal Our Days

This lesser known verse of How Firm a Foundation holds special promise for every condition of life.  Here are three Scriptures the lyricist may have used to compose this verse:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 
I can do all this through him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea, 
Even there your hand will guide me, 
Your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139:8-10).

The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze,

and your strength will equal your days (Deuteronomy 33:25).

Friday, March 8, 2019

How Firm a Foundation

In every season of life, God is our refuge. 
A few months ago this hymn came to mind and I googled the lyrics. I began looking up Scripture references for each stanza and found no fewer than a dozen Scriptures that I believe the writer must have used to compose the hymn. 

I read an article recently that says music isn't forgotten in Alzheimer's disease.  It occurred to me that if I memorize the lyrics of this hymn, then maybe, time and age won't rob me of the Scriptural comfort it contains!  This is the same premise behind the devotional I wrote for my mom, which includes the lyrics to familiar hymns with each devotion.  Mom still can recall the word to many hymns even now, 15 years into her Alzheimer's journey. 

Throughout Lent I'll be posting stanzas to this beautiful hymn with accompanying Scripture references. 
Scripture for Stanza 1 of How Firm a Foundation  
(See the lyrics to stanza 1 in the meme at the beginning of this post)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Psalm 89:14
So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. 
Isaiah 28:16

He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. 
Isaiah 33:6

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised...
Hebrews 11:32-33

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    deliver me in your righteousness. 
Psalm 31:1  

A lovely recording of the hymn:  


Wednesday, March 6, 2019

For Caregivers--and All Who Are Tired and Weary

I love this version of Jeremiah 31:25 because it holds such sweet promise for caregivers, and for all who are tired and weary.
Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the first day of Lent. I'm giving up sweets and adding on a memorization challenge that won't be too difficult, because it entails music. I'll share more in a blog post later this week.
God bless you today as we draw near to the Lord in remembrance of His journey to the Cross--and to victory over death!